Since it's my birthday and the males are all in temper-tantrum mode, I've decided I'll just hide out and write up a review of my August reads. Okay, wait, update on that . . . the eldest son has arrived home with (so far) my one and only gift and it's a very nice one. He also came bearing pastry, so I'm feeling better. The photos tucked into the side of this post were all taken outside my home, yesterday. Nature was in motion. The new header starring "Gray Kitty" (a very sweet neighborhood cat) was also taken yesterday, on our driveway. She was watching the butterflies.
My August Reads:
1. Taking the Plunge by Stacie Lewis - A fictionalized retelling of a real-life bride's angst as she prepares for a Detroit wedding to a Welsh man. There's less culture clash than grown-up temper tantrums between the parents and step-parents. ARC read for Estella's Revenge - the full review should be up in a few days.
2. Lesley Castle by Jane Austen - Three stories written during Austen's teen years, humorous and displaying a surprising grasp of social interaction in a light-hearted style that made for lots of smiles. My top favorite of the month.
3. Truth or Dare by Melanie Atkins - A paranormal romantic suspense set in an antebellum mansion, the story contains a witch, a zombie, a trio of vengeful ghosts, and a hunky guy with a gun. R-rated, but the story is enjoyable for its setting and its uniqueness. Would make a great book for the RIP II.
4. The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom - A librarian travels to Northern Ireland to start a new job, but finds the library closed and the books missing. Not really so much a mystery as slapstick humor - terrific, light reading.
5. Life's a Beach by Claire Cook - A forty-something woman worries about the fact that she hasn't quite settled down or figured out what she loves doing and isn't sure whether her boyfriend is worth the effort. She has a sister anguishing over her upcoming 50th birthday and parents who are threatening to evict her from the apartment over their garage. Sometimes drags, but overall it's a pretty nice book with likable characters.
6. Voyage by Adele Geras - Historical young adult tale of life in steerage as passengers cross the Atlantic Ocean in search of new life in the United States. Review book for Estella's Revenge - full review should be posted in a few days. I liked it.
7. Shopaholic & Baby by Sophie Kinsella - Becky goes shopping for all the most useless (but cute) baby things, worries that her husband is having an affair with her doctor, and attempts to save the floundering store where she now works. Loved this one, after getting past the initial annoyance of all that shopping.
8. Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller - The friend of a teacher who has been caught having an affair with a 15-year-old student attempts to figure out what she was thinking by setting the events in logical order. Fascinating and well-written, very slow and thoughtful.
9. Everyman by Philip Roth - A man is buried and then the book reflects back on the deterioration of his health, his reflections about how he screwed up, and the loneliness that resulted. Thoroughly lacking in hope. I'm going to go back and put this one on my "not recommended" list; it's not worth the time. I'll give Roth another chance because the man can write, but this was the month's worst read.
10. Blizzard by George Stone - 1970's disaster story of a blizzard that won't end and the investigation into whether it was man-made - if so, who is responsible and how to stop it. Not a great deal of brain cells required, but well-crafted and intelligent, I thought. Makes for a great hot-weather brain break.
11. Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson - Young adult historical fiction; the story of a young girl's experience during the yellow fever epidemic of 1793 in Philadelphia. An excellent peek into the horror of an outbreak of disease at a time when its cause and proper treatment were not understood.
12. Monkey Love by Brenda Scott Royce - A hair-cutting, tax-preparing, typist-carpenter-comedian with a degree in primatology gets stuck babysitting a boa constrictor and a monkey, helping untangle her friends' love lives while trying to figure out her own and dealing with her crazy relatives. A really delightful, wacky, sweet, and unique story. I enjoyed this one thoroughly and gobbled it right down.
13. Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers - An ARC I found at the library, I expected something on the order of a cute, funny book in the vein of Meg Cabot's email books with a busy family leaving notes on the fridge. The book is, in fact, communication between a busy single mother and her daughter and it's both unsatisfying (too short - most pages contain only one brief note) and tremendously sad. In many cases, I found it difficult to believe that the two wouldn't bother to just talk to each other while they were going through a crisis. I'm not sure why anyone would publish a book like this; it seems pointlessly depressing. But, then, so does Everyman.
Overall, a terrific month. I read just over 3,000 pages. Kiddo talked me into watching a movie, last night, or I might have finished up the 14th book (God is My Co-Pilot). Hope to finish that one, tonight. I've also started reading Haunted Castles of the World by Charles Coulombe, my first read for the RIP II. I'll have to niche in a second book because Haunted Castles is best read in small doses. In fact, I think I'll go read right now. Grumpy husband has dashed off with eldest son and youngster has crashed. Methinks his week may have finally caught up with him.
May the rotten pears of your life be covered with beautiful butterflies.